Robert Ménard, secretary general of the "Reporters without frontiers" (RSF) international organization, offered an exclusive interview for HotNews.ro, discussing the independence of public TV stations, the criminal penalties against journalists and the way journalists should be organized, in structures besides the ones of their employers. Menard still militates for a political boycott of the Olympic Games opening ceremony and says that Romanian officials should adopt a clear position as soon as possible.
The interview, in brief:
- Asked why Romania was not an issue this year in the RSF web articles, Menard said that there are no major problems at the moment and the situation enters a climate of normality. The files referring to press freedom are the same with those in other EU states. As for the public TV, Menard reminds that France had to wait for 10-15 years before seeing less political pressure put on its public TV station and that most heads of public TV stations are still named on political grounds. "When they win the elections, they consider they also deserve the public TV station", says Menard.
- The solution suggested by Menard is an independent institution, designed to survey the public TV space.
- Referring to professional organizations, Menard points again at France, where journalists' unions are scarce, instead a Journalists' Society surveys all ethical aspects of the profession. Many journalistic "mishaps" may be judged by the self-regulation organizations, but for difficult files, Menard believes that the state should intervene.
- Journalists should not go to jail for their articles, but this doesn't mean they can write anything they want.
- It would be a scandal to see a Human Rights official at the opening of the Olympic Games.
- There are hundreds of journalists in prison in China, there is no political freedom nor press freedom there.
- The press should ask the Romanian government to assume a clear position. There are prisoners at stake and we shouldn't allow our state officials to go there and applaud.
- Europe rallies when it comes to European journalists, but not when Iraqi journalists are in danger.